Cats are huge in anime. I don’t just mean the anime episodes like in Card Captor Sakura (Sakura’s little adventure) where an adorable fluffy neighborhood cat is magically turned into a giant rampaging monster hell bent on eating the main character, though there are plenty of those, but rather the immense presence of cats in the lives of anime characters.
From Hello Kitty to the two tailed cats of Japanese folklore, these playful fluff balls have captured the imaginations of the Japanese. It’s not that surprising that cat’s would have such a noticeable and even iconic image in Japanese pop culture. Unlike in Western cultures during the dark ages, cats in Japan have never gone through centuries of suspicion and abuse. While cats in Europe were seen as bad omens or “Witches cats”, cats in Japan have a long history of bringing good fortune in the form of the Maneki Neko. Even when cats are viewed with a hint of mysticism in Japan, it’s usually a positive image or at least a creature to respect. And who could deny the anime-tastic kawaii-ness of our mischievous furry friends! So, let’s meet some of anime’s favorite felines.
The world of Natsume Yujincho wouldn’t be nearly as interesting without Nyanko Sensei. The hard drinking, surly, slightly evil, grandpa cat that flipped between being Natsume’s assassin to his bodyguard.
Though Nyanko Sensei spends most of his time in the form of an extremely over weight cat, he is actually a giant wolf-like monster and powerful forest spirit that can defeat or eat just about any other spirit out there. His actual name is Madara, but because of his habit of taking the form of a rather ugly cat, Natsume and his family would only call Madara cat names like Goro-chan (loaf/round little one) or Neko-chan (little kitty). Being an old grumpy grandpa type, Madara insisted that Natsume at least call Madara a sensei. So Natsume called Madara “Nyanko Sensei” roughly meaning Professor Meow.
Buyo might not play a big role in the Inuyasha anime, but the epic historical drama wouldn’t have even started without the antics of this big boned kitty. Like many cats anime, Buyo is a curious creature that gets into weird spots and causes trouble without a second thought. Much like Nyanko Sensei, Buyo is a rotund kitty that maybe isn’t the cutest one on the block. White with big colorful spots, he’s often seen sleeping through the action or running off to where he shouldn’t go. In the first episode of Inuyasha, it was Buyo that first wandered into the old shed that housed the “Bone eaters well”. When Kagome and her little brother went to look for the wayward cat, Kagome fell into the old well and into the distant past where she started her adventures with Inuyasha.
My Roommate is a Cat is an adorable story about healing grief, making connections, and building your own community. And the catalyst of all this growth came from Haru, a tiny gray cat. My Roommate is a Cat, is kind of unique because it has the point of view of the main character and the cat Haru. At the beginning of this charming anime, Haru is a stray kitten without a home or any food or safety. The main character is a shut in author (Subaru Mikazuki) who had just lost his parents and was dealing with a lot of grief and loneliness. Not surprisingly considering how much stress he was experiencing, Mikazuki was dealing with a bad case of writer’s block.
When Haru stumbled into his life, the Mikazuki found that not only did he start feeling better, his writer’s block came to an end too. As the main character slowly started learning how to be a good pet parent, he was forced to make connections with other people and a community started forming around him making his loneliness and seclusion faded away.
If you haven’t met your daily cuteness requirements, Have You Seen My Tamachan? can help you with that. This is an extra adorable anime told from the view point of a cuddly group of neighborhood cats. Humans play a backstage role in this anime. The main character (Tamachan) is a kind and gentle little cat that gets lost quite often. Thankfully he has his best friend (Pochi) a puppy to stay by his side so he doesn’t get too lost and he has a neighborhood full of cat and dog friends that help find him.
One of the cutest things about this anime is that the characters really do think and see their world as pets might. They see a tiny little shrine as a grand castle that needs defending, they see vastly different animals (like cute little piggys) as potential friends, they misunderstand things (like when Tamachan thought he was actually a raccoon dog) and they see themselves as very important people.
Do you have a favorite kitty-centric anime? Please leave a comment below!
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I’m currently watching:
- My Hero Academia
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- Level E
2 thoughts on “Anime cats: the surly, the sneaky, the sweet!”
Great list! Anything with Nyanko always has my vote.
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I know right? He kind of reminds me of the surly old cat I had as a little kid. Though, my kitty wasn’t into binge drinking. At least not as far as I know. Hmm, he did like staying out late at night. . .
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